Reston Wiehle Metrorail Station

Reston Wiehle Metrorail Station
Photo by ehplen, November 2013

Monday, March 30, 2015

"Invest in Fairfax," Rally for Fairfax County Public Library, April 8, 4PM, Government Center


SUPPORT QUALITY LIBRARIES
AND SERVICES
IN FAIRFAX COUNTY

  Invest In Fairfax Rally

April 8, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Fairfax County Government Center

Questions?  Contact FairfaxLibraryAdvocates@gmail.com

Fairfax Library Advocates have joined a coalition dedicated to advocating around budget issues. Invest in Fairfax is a broad coalition of businesses, non-profits, human service providers and advocates dedicated to the proposition that Fairfax County, Virginia is an excellent place to live.  Libraries are an essential part of Quality public services in Fairfax County. The members of the
Invest In Fairfax Coalition believe that Excellence is at risk in our community. 

Join the Coalition at the Budget Hearing of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on April 8, 2015 at 5:00 pm.   This will take place in the Board auditorium of the Fairfax County Government Center - 12000 Government Center Pkwy, Fairfax, VA 22035 . A group of folks will be speaking to the Board of Supervisors in support of quality libraries and services in Fairfax County.  Please let us know if you want to register to speak.
Staging Area:  Come to Rooms 2 and 3 between 4:00 and 5:00 pm at the Government Center to receive stickers, signs, and instructions for the Rally.   There will be food and beverages served courtesy of SEIU Virginia 512.

Let's rally together to Save Our Libraries and protect
Excellence and Quality public services in Fairfax County.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Fairfax library cuts may mean more overtime for employees, Fairfax Times, March 26, 2015

Some branches rely on volunteers to fill key gaps in service

Click here for the rest of this article on the Board of Supervisors' war on our public library system.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations: Library Resolution for FY2016 Budget

The Fairfax County Federation of Citizens Associations (FCFCA) approved a resolution at its March 19, 2015, regular membership meeting calling for "RESTORATION OF 14 (13.5 FTE) LIBRARY CIRCULATION AIDE POSITIONS AND THEIR ASSOCIATED FUNDING TO FY2016 BUDGET."  The full text of their resolution may be read here:

http://ffxlibraryadvocates.blogspot.com/2015/03/fairfax-county-federation-of-citizens.html


 

Draft RA Strategic Plan whittles away at Reston sustainability and environmental protection.



At its March 26, 2015 meeting, the RA Board of Directors will move to approve a draft Strategic Plan for 2016-2020.  Included in the draft are major changes in language that would dilute Reston’s historic efforts to preserve, protect, and restore the environment despite Reston’s Master Plan and RA’s Essential Elements calling for that effort.  The proposed changes are the result of changes made by RA’s Board Planning Committee (BPC) about two weeks ago.  Besides undermining long-established Reston principles, it puts RA in the position of both advocating expanded development and protecting open space, a potential contradiction that could undermine its established and broadly supported position opposing development of Reston National Golf Course, for example.  We strongly recommend that the RA Board of Directors return the draft plan to the Board Planning Committee for revision consistent with Reston's planning principles and history of pursuing environmental sustainability.

On Thursday, the Reston Association Board of Directors will consider a draft Strategic Plan to guide the Association for the next four years.  One of the major proposed changes is combining and eroding current language that is at the heart of the community’s effort to advance sustainability and protect the environment.  The Strategic Plan draft the Board will review was last revised by RA’s Board Planning Committee (BPC) a couple of weeks ago, and reflects the Committee’s changes. 

The draft plan language is being diluted so that the Strategic Plan does not stand in the way of redevelopment in Reston, bringing it more in line with County ambitions for Reston and RA’s own quest for additional members and assessment revenues.  (Appended to this post is the current and proposed language on environmental sustainability issues.)  At the heart of this effort is RA's BPC.  The committee establishes the monthly RA Board meeting agenda and prepares final drafts of documents for consideration by the Board among other functions.  It comprises the RA Board’s officers, two other Board members, and the CEO and Board/Staff Liaison as non-voting members.  Also participating at the meeting discussing the draft Strategic Plan were RA’s legal counsel and the Director of Parks, Recreation, and Community Resources.

The draft plan language proposed by the BPC undercuts a core Reston principle of protecting and restoring our environment.  Indeed, sustainability constitutes the second Planning Principle in the Reston Master Plan approved by the County Board of Supervisors little more than a year ago.  Moreover, Reston Association’s own “Essential Elements of Reston”—referenced in both the current and draft strategic goal-- lists Environmental Stewardship as its first priority.  (We have appended these two vital statements at the end of this post for your information.)

The Current Strategic Plan

Consistent with the County’s Planning Principles and Reston’s Essential Elements, RA’s current strategic plan already anticipates redevelopment and revitalization, but emphasizes the importance of preserving existing neighborhoods, protecting and restoring environmental resources, and promoting a sustainable and viable community.  The new draft plan lacks these clear directives, which are essential to maintaining Reston’s quality of life.  At a minimum, these must be restored in any new strategic plan.
 
RA’s current (2012-2016) Strategic Plan has five ‘focus areas.’  These include Change & Opportunity and Sustainability & Community Viability.  The  ‘strategic goals’ for these areas are ‘promote the Essential Elements of Reston as standards for the development, redevelopment, and revitalization,’ and ‘effectively manage all resources, resulting in a sustainable and viable community.’  The ‘objectives’ to achieve these goals include: ‘preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods and their distinctive characteristics’; and ‘protect, enhance and restore environmental resources.’

The Board Planning Committee’s Draft

Several weeks ago, the BPC reviewed an early draft 2016‑2020 strategic plan developed by a working group that combined the current Change and Sustainability focus areas into a single section, entitled Leading Sustainable Change.  The strategic goal for this consolidated section was ‘enhance and protect Reston’s built and natural environments to ensure that development and redevelopment is consistent with the Essential Elements of Reston.’  Surprisingly, the current sustainability goal language was not included.  The accompanying four objectives were new, and did not include the current language.

The Board Planning Committee retained the Leading Sustainable Change title and a new, more narrow strategic goal.  The Committee considered reusing objectives from the current strategic plan, but some directors expressed concern that they “could be used as a stick” by opponents of redevelopment.  After much discussion, the BPC rewrote the objectives, producing the revised draft strategic plan to be discussed and voted on at Thursday’s Board meeting.

Some Implications of the Proposed Changes

While the new draft strategic goal still references the Essential Elements, the revised objectives fail to match the current RA strategic plan’s clear and unambiguous mandates to preserve, protect, and restore existing neighborhoods and the environment.  Indeed, the revised objectives do not even use the terms preserve, protect or restore, instead substituting the word “conserve,“ which has a far different meaning.  Other draft language also is ambiguous or phrased in a manner that renders it nearly meaningless.  As a result, the draft objectives do not adequately support the stated goal, much less the County’s and RA’s historic strategic vision of Reston.

Moreover, it seems clear that the BPC has not considered the potentially adverse consequences for protecting Reston against highly undesirable development and redevelopment effort.  Possibly the single most important current example is the ongoing case of redevelopment of the Reston National Golf Course as thousands of dwellings by Northwestern Mutual. 

As the Reston Master Plan states, selective high-quality development is desirable and  necessary, but Reston Association's first priority should be to preserve and improve the quality of life in Reston to the maximum extent possible.  In this regard, it is essential that the objectives include language demonstrating the RA’s firm commitment to environmental sustainability.  Absent a compelling, valid reason, the preserve, protect, restore and enhance language in the current strategic plan should be included in the 2016-2020 plan’s objectives.  Weakening the strategic plan would send the wrong message, particularly when the Association is engaged in a public fight to preserve open space in Reston.

The current draft 2016-2020 Strategic Plan should be rejected by the RA Board of Directors, and the draft plan should be returned to the Board Planning Committee for further revisions consistent with established County and RA principles.

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Extract from the Reston Master Plan Planning Principles approved by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, February 14, 2014

2.  Planning will provide for environmental sustainability and green technology. 
Natural resources and ecosystems, including natural areas, will be protected and restored.  Adverse impacts on the environment (land, water, and air) will be
minimized, and best practices will be used to protect environmentally sensitive areas.
Green neighborhood and building practices will meet high standards.  Tree canopy
will continue to be an important component of the Reston visual experience. 

Extract from the Essential Elements of Reston, June 2010

1.  Environmental Stewardship
 
Reston is a place where nature is valued and protected. Our trees are abundant and our natural areas are right next door, no matter where in Reston we live. It is RA’s goal to preserve, protect, and enhance our natural and built environment for current and future residents. This includes, but is not limited to, streams, trails, community pavilions, outdoor plazas, and open space areas, whether natural or developed. Open space is more than just the natural areas, outdoor community gathering pavilions, and our beautiful trees – open space is the aesthetic and valued quality of nature so prevalent in our community and throughout our neighborhoods. Open space is also close to virtually all residences and within walking distance of commercial businesses.  As such, the Reston Association recommends that: 
a. Any new development or redevelopment project must take into consideration the site’s existing and surrounding natural flora, fauna, and water resources; with the goal of preserving undisturbed natural areas to the greatest extent possible.
b. All current state and county stormwater management regulations must be adhered to and enforced.
c. To maintain continuity with the surrounding community, all new development and/or redevelopment must include green space, trees, and to the extent possible, undisturbed natural areas. 
d. Projects must be environmentally sensitive, compatible with, and considerate of, their surroundings; including consideration of building heights and placement. 
e. Concerted efforts be made by Fairfax County and others to preserve in perpetuity the Sunrise Valley Wetlands Nature Park and that the Park be donated to the Reston Association for its continued use and management for benefit of the community.

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Relevant language in the current 2012-2016 RA Strategic Plan
(The BPC proposes merging the following two focus areas in to a single focus area.)

Focus Area [1]: Change & Opportunity
Strategic Goal: 
To promote the Essential Elements1 of Reston as standards for the development, redevelopment, and revitalization of our community.

Objectives to Achieve Strategic Goal:
1.      Prepare Reston Association (RA) to incorporate additional residential and mixed use properties into the Association, as development occurs.
2.      Continuously advocate for, an increase in the number of multi-model transportation facilities in the Reston Community.
3.      By 2013, establish procedures that will ensure Reston Association’s interests are considered in redevelopment and revitalization of our community.

Footnote 1 states: “Essential Elements: Refers to Reston’s design and planning foundation principles which include  Environmental Stewardship, Commitment to the Arts, Accessibility, Planning & Design Excellence,  Recreational Amenities, and Housing Opportunities.”


Focus Area [4]: Sustainability & Community Viability
Strategic Goal: 
To effectively manage all resources, resulting in a sustainable and viable community.

Objectives to Achieve Strategic Goal:
1.      Annually, develop and allocate appropriate financial resources to sustain and enhance the Association’s physical infrastructure.
2.      Continuously protect, enhance and restore environmental resources.
3.      Continuously preserve the integrity of our neighborhoods and their distinctive characteristics through covenants compliance.
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Relevant language in draft RA Strategic Plan, 2016-2020, showing changes made by the BPC